Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are the undisputed leaders of the Premier League. The London team are enjoying a magnificent campaign under the Spanish coach. After arriving in the middle of the 2019/2020 season, and after two somewhat irregular seasons, the coach has managed to put together a team with a very defined game idea and capable of fighting for the title against teams like Manchester City, Chelsea and others.
Therefore, at the MBP School of Coaches, we are going to explain the most relevant tactical concepts of Arsenal Football Club that have enabled them to once again aspire to win the league.
• Play to be in order to arrive
Arsenal have a very distinctive attacking style. Since his first season, the manager has wanted to implement a way of attacking opponents through positional play.
To achieve this, the Spaniard is using a GK-4-2-3-1 attacking base structure. Through it, the Gunners manage to guarantee two essential tactical concepts: width and depth, thus achieving greater ease in the implementation of the different principles of play to be carried out.
However, their behaviour in the final third of the pitch varies. Once they have achieved the objective of mobilising the opposition and attracting them to specific areas, the Gunners look for verticality in their actions. To do this, they execute through balls or drives with the ball that allow them to get close to the opponent’s area.
One of the most common ways in which they penetrate through the opposition is by crosses from the B or C zones. Players such as Saka, Martinelli and the two full backs have a great influence on these actions. Through them, 2vs1 situations are created against the opposing defender so they can load the area in search of the free man.
• Martin Ødegaard as a n.º 10
The Norwegian is the star of the Gunners. Since his arrival in the 2020/2021 season, the player has not stopped growing and has become the reference point for the Londoners.
Starting from the attacking midfielder position, Ødegaard is responsible for giving direction to all his team’s attacks. To do this, the player does not hesitate to use different fundamentals of the game to ensure that the principles established in his team are achieved.
For example, in situations where Arsenal cannot find passing lines in behind that would allow them to settle in the final 3rd, the Norwegian implements the individual fundamental of ‘Guaranteeing The Construction Of The Game By Dropping Towards The Midfield Line’. Thanks to the application of this IFP, the player manages to give more fluidity to his team’s attacking phase and generate situations of numerical and/or positional superiority that allow them to advance.
Another of the great strengths in which the player excels in is the verticality of the passes he makes. Despite taking risks in the type of passes he plays, the No.10 is the sixth top passer in the side, and second top with the most assists.
Through the ‘Searching For Vertical Progression In Attack’, the player knows how to identify perfectly which action he must execute in order for his team to progress in the game. This follows the sequence of vertical passes that puts the teammate in an immediate finishing situation, using an individual action to attract the opponent and free up a teammate, and playing out wide.
Finally, the Norwegian has also become a benchmark in the scoring department, having netted a total of eight goals in the league so far.
A very high percentage of goals scored have been thanks to the application of the IFP ‘Attacking The Free Spaces When There Is A Possibility For A Cross’.
The player is able to identify perfectly which spaces are free inside the box, in order to attack them with second line runs. As a result, the player has enough time and space to hit the target successfully.
• The ambition during the attacking phase
Another of the tactical key points that is having the greatest impact on Arsenal’s performance is their behaviour when they don’t have the ball.
Arteta has designed a bold approach during his team’s defensive phase. Through a GK-4-4-2 or GK-4-4-1-1 base structure, the Gunners look to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible.
Despite the risk involved in leaving so much space behind them, the North Londoners are managing to win back a large amount of balls, either from turnovers or on second balls, once they force the opposing team to play long.
In addition, they have shown themselves to be very ‘intense’ in the moments after the ball has been lost, with a collective and very well organised press that allows them to win the ball back as quickly as possible.
Mikel Arteta has managed to put together a solid team with a defined game idea capable of making them fight for the Premier League title. Despite the fact that there is still a whole second half of the season to play, the way they have played so far has made them the favourites to win the league this season.